By CBSLA Staff

PLACENTIA (CBSLA) — Isabella Dominguez is a gymnast, swimmer and cheerleader.

Isabella Dominguez recently found out that she made the varsity cheerleading squad at El Dorado High School in Placentia. (Credit: April Lopez)

“Well, Isabella is perfect,” mom April Lopez said. “When Isabella was born, she wasn’t supposed to live. She had about 50% chance.”

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But, even as a baby, Dominguez was not one to back down from a challenge.

“She had heart surgery,” Lopez said. “So she spent the first couple of months of her life in the NICU, the PICU at the hospital. And then here she is, 18 years later, and doing fabulous.”

Dominguez was born with Down Syndrome and is on the autism spectrum, but she doesn’t let any of that get in the way of achieving her goals. She has competed at the Special Olympics in both gymnastics and swimming and is a varsity cheerleader at El Dorado High School in Placentia.

“It was scary,” Lopez said of putting her daughter in school. “Will Bella be included? Will she be taken in by her peers? And how does Bella feel?

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“And we can’t always understand how Bella feels, because verbally she doesn’t communicate that,” she continued. “And when she was included on the roster, then we knew this was going to be her journey for a little while.”

But Lopez said that it wasn’t always easy, and her daughter had to work incredibly hard to earn her spot on the team — a team that has since embraced her completely.

“I love cheerleading,” Dominguez said.

With commitment, hard work and support from an incredible family, Dominguez will undoubtedly keep striving to reach her goals.

“We’re here to support her and say, ‘If you love to dance, if you want to be a part of your school, then let’s go do it,'” Lopez said. “Everybody doesn’t always look the same, and that’s a good thing. And what we want for her is what we all want for all of our kids is to be happy, to be included and to reach whatever her potential is.”

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As for Dominguez, her next big milestone is graduating with her classmates next spring.